Rockford Files: Season 1 Blu-ray

Monday, 22 October 2018 10:20

The Rockford Files - Season 1 out now on Blu-rayJames Garner (“The Great Escape”, “Space Cowboys”) stars as Jim Rockford, a laid-back private investigator with a penchant for damsels in distress and getting into life-threatening predicaments. Having served five years for armed robbery, a crime he may or may not have committed, Rockford has developed thick skin and an ability to read people and situations, meaning he is exceptionally good at his job. He also has a string of useful contacts including police Sgt Becker (Joe Santos – “The Last Boyscout”, The Sopranos) to help him solve cases.

The few other constants in Jim’s turbulent life include his father Rocky (Noah Beery Jr – “Walking Tall”, “Red River”), his dishevelled trailer home in a parking lot in Malibu and his gold Pontiac Firebird Esprit automobile. He is invariably skint and even though he cracks most of his cases, events generally conspire against him such that he is rarely paid his full rate of $200 a day plus expenses. Charm, wit and quick thinking keep him one step ahead of the criminals, but they are never far behind.

Growing up, The Rockford Files was one of my favourite series, and I was slightly concerned it might have become a little long in the tooth for today’s audiences. I need not have worried, chiefly because Garner is such a timelessly magnetic, charismatic presence at the heart of the show. He won an Outstanding Lead Actor Emmy in 1975 for his portrayal and it is easy to see why; his performance is effortless.

Jim Rockford is deliciously cheeky in the face of danger, and even though he gets threatened, beaten up, shot at and involved in high-speed car chases (often all in a single episode), he always bounces back and dodges more injuries than he sustains. He is also quite adept at handing out a beating if backed into a corner, though the odds are rarely in his favour.

As is often the way in detective shows, the more dots Jim joins, the more attention and heat he attracts, a dynamic that sees most episodes building to an exciting climax. Not all episodes start at beginning of the story however, helping to keep the formula fresh.

Guest actors include Lindsay Wagner, James Woods, Marc Alaimo, Sid Haig and Linda Evans. It is a credit to the writing and acting that you often wish that case-of-the-week characters would be given a chance to become regulars.

The show’s creators are Stephen J Cannell and Roy Huggins. Cannell’s massive list of writing credits includes shows like 21 Jump Street, The Commish and of course The A-Team. Huggins likewise notched up hit shows such as The Fugitive, Alias Smith and Jones and Hunter.

The Rockford Files is also blessed with another memorable theme tune by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter, who between them crafted some of the best TV themes ever like L A Law, The A-Team, Hill Street Blues and Magnum P I - each episode opens with Jim’s answerphone playing a brief message from a disgruntled associate, friend or client that exposes how amusingly flaky Rockford can be. Perhaps he is a distant relative of Del Boy!

Although the box set has no special features, the restored, high definition picture quality is pretty good. Perhaps some bonus content will be released with later seasons?

The Rockford Files – Season One (1974-75) is out now on Blu-ray, courtesy of Fabulous Films Ltd. The six-Blu-ray disc set has a running time of 1,228 minutes approx, carries a ‘PG’ certificate and retails for £39.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com.

 

Last modified on Monday, 22 October 2018 10:24

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